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updated 11/23/2011 12:54:04 PM ET 2011-11-23T17:54:04

Guests: Brian Sullivan, Michael Steele, Bob Shrum, Jonathan Chait, Joan Walsh, Max Holland, , Michael Steele, Bob Shrum

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Veto.

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews down in Washington. Leading off
tonight: Battle lines. The failure of the super-committee to do its job
has defined the fight for 2012. It`s now clear that Republicans would
rather protect tax cuts for the rich, mainly, than strike a balanced deal
with Democrats to cut the deficit and the debt.

"The Washington Post`s" Ezra Klein said it well when he wrote that,
quote -- in these negotiations, quote, "the Democrats moved right and the
Republicans moved further right." And the president is betting Americans
will see it the same way, that Republicans are ideologically driven anti-
tax zealots incapable of compromise. And his vow yesterday to veto their
attempts to undo those automatic cuts makes him look strong. But will his
party and the country be with him? There`s a great question.

And that question leads to this. Why have liberals been so
dissatisfied with President Obama? We`ve got a guest on tonight who says
the problem may not be the president but the expectations of those liberals
who aren`t ever happy with any Democrat in the White House ever. I may
have to admit to some problem here of my own self here anyway.

And Mitt Romney`s running a new TV commercial in New Hampshire called
"Believe in America." But you shouldn`t believe what you hear in this
commercial. Check out what Romney has Obama saying in the ad.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It`s going to take a
new direction. If we keep talking about the economy, we`re going to lose.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, that last line isn`t merely out of context, it`s out
of bounds. Here`s what Obama actually said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Senator McCain`s campaign actually said, and I quote, "If we
keep talking about the economy, we`re going to lose."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: So Obama is -- well, actually, Romney`s taking something
Obama said about John McCain and sticking it back in the president`s mouth.
Talk about dishonest advertising.

And on this day, 48 years after President Kennedy was assassinated,
we`ve got new video evidence from Dealey (ph) Plaza, where he was shot,
that may help answer the lingering questions about Kennedy`s death.

Finally, "Let Me Finish" with some thoughts on what happened on this
day in Dallas 48 years ago.

We start with the failure of the super-committee and the battle for
2012. Dana Milbank`s a political columnist for "The Washington Post," and
a great one, and Jonathan Allen is with Politico, a great reporter.

Gentlemen, a great team to look at this right now, the morning after,
if you will. Let`s look at this political climate. Why isn`t Congress
working now? Look at these approval numbers. Congressional approval as of
November 13th and November 15th -- that was the field days -- 12 percent.
You know, that`s one in eight, they approve of the job Congress is doing.
Who is that one in eight person, Jay-mar (ph)? Who likes -- is it the far
right person who loves gridlock? Is it -- what?

JONATHAN ALLEN, POLITICO.COM: Probably those folks who weren`t paying
attention. I mean, you`ve got 535 members of Congress, 300 million
Americans, and apparently, 535 out of 300 million is 12 percent because I
can`t think of anyone I know that approves of the job Congress is doing.

I think you`ve got the right idea in general. Those who like
gridlock, those who don`t want to see anything moving forward, have to be
somewhat satisfied -- perhaps a few people that just love their own member
of Congress or happen to love...

MATTHEWS: Yes.

ALLEN: ... the speaker of the House at the time and...

MATTHEWS: Or haven`t been reading the newspapers for about two or
three years.

ALLEN: Or didn`t hear the question right.

MATTHEWS: Yes, couldn`t hear the question. John (ph), your thoughts.
Why do some people -- why is there still a residual -- it seems it should
be a strikeout, a complete strikeout for this. They don`t get anything
done.

DANA MILBANK, "WASHINGTON POST": Some colleagues of mine at "The
Post" actually looked into this question, and there are a few people, a few
conservatives, who are just happy that nothing`s happening in Washington...

MATTHEWS: Right.

MILBANK: ... so they approve of what Congress is doing.

MATTHEWS: Do-nothing types.

MILBANK: And then there`s a few others that -- just sort of a
psychological profile. They don`t want to say anything bad about anybody,
so they`re just going to say, Oh, it`s fine with me, what Congress is
doing.

But look, whether it`s 9 percent or 12 percent support of Congress --
and this is before what is perhaps the biggest debacle of all and you can
only imagine how much -- how much -- how much worse could things...

MATTHEWS: Yes, I keep thinking about those European countries or
South American countries before a coup, when they do the constitution -- we
have a great Constitution. It`s not going to fail us. But in some
countries with weaker constitutions and a failed political class, things
happen. The tanks start moving in the streets. You think about that.

MILBANK: If this were Italy...

MATTHEWS: Or if it were Greece...

MILBANK: ... we would presumably have a new government.

MATTHEWS: ... when they had the colonels take over, all those
countries in Latin America.

Let`s take a look right now at what the president said with some hope,
I think, about the payroll tax cut. He wants that extended and he wants
the unemployment insurance extended. These are issues that matter to most
people more than even debt relief. Let`s take a look at Obama in New
Hampshire. He talked about this today. Let`s listen to the president.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This payroll tax is set
to expire at the end of next month. End of next month, end of the year,
this tax cut ends. And if we allow that to happen, if Congress refuses to
act, the middle class families are going to get hit with a tax increase at
the worst possible time.

If your members of Congress aren`t delivering, you`ve got to send them
a message. Make sure they`re listening. Tell them, Don`t be a Grinch.

(LAUGHTER)

OBAMA: Don`t vote to raise taxes on working Americans during the
holidays, put the country before party. Put money back in the pockets of
working families. Do your job.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: So Jonathan, why do you think the president shifted from
the disaster yesterday so quickly to what he wants done at the end of the
year, which is to continue unemployment benefits and also extend the
payroll tax cut? Why is he more focused on those issues?

ALLEN: Well, one of the things is venue. You`re talking about New
Hampshire here. The president in 2008 in the primary ran as a tax cutter.
If you listen to the robo-calls that were going out for Obama, they said
Barack Obama is the only one in this race that`s cut taxes before. I think
he`s going to try and show (ph) the payroll tax cut, the only one that --
the only real tax cut that`s happened this year, is also something of his.
And I think that`s something that`s popular in New Hampshire.

I also think that it`s something that he wants to be able to say not
just there but all across the country, I`m cutting your taxes, and maybe
the Republicans are going to stand in the way of this payroll tax cut that
they don`t like as much as I do.

MATTHEWS: So here`s the president on the popular side of a fiscal
issue, finally -- not for raising taxes, which is never really that
popular, except -- well, if it`s somebody else`s taxes, the rich people`s.
But here he is -- nobody wants to play around with Medicare and Social
Security and cut those benefits, or even reform them in a serious way.

But here he`s doing something almost everybody wants, a payroll tax
cut is good for business.

MILBANK: Oh, and...

MATTHEWS: And it`s good for the worker.

MILBANK: And look at the juxtaposition. He just was in this fight
with the Republicans, who are insisting on protecting tax cuts for
millionaires. Now he can go on the other side of this and say, Well,
they`re trying to increase taxes by $1,000 dollars on somebody who earns
$50,000. They`re trying to take away their unemployment benefits.

It works out well politically for the president. A lot of people were
critical for Obama not getting more involved with the super-committee. I
think -- he said, Look, this isn`t my baby. They forced this super-
committee on me as a toll (ph) for raising the debt limit. He would much
rather be talking about the payroll tax cut and things to get the economy
going. He also has to get these things to happen, or we`re going right
back into recession.

MATTHEWS: Yes, because this has not just a political impact but an
economic impact if these things don`t happen because if it costs more to
hire somebody, that slows down whatever there is of this recovery.

Anyway, the Republican co-chair of the super-committee, Jeb Hensarling
of Texas, blamed the failure on Democrats today in a "Wall Street Journal"
op-ed.

He wrote, quote, "Democrats on the super-committee made it clear that
the new spending called for in the president`s health law was off the
table. Still, committee Republicans offered to negotiate a plan on the
other two health care entitlements, Medicare and Medicaid. Committee
Democrats offered modest adjustments to these programs, but they were far
from sufficient to meet the challenge, and even their modest changes were
made contingent upon a minimum of a trillion dollars in higher taxes, a
move sure to stifle job creation during the worst economy in recent
history."

Jonathan, it seems to me that they`re coming out with something here.
The Republicans are saying, You know, the Democrats didn`t want to really
do -- didn`t want to really put forward a plan, and therefore -- and they
also wanted us to raise taxes. They don`t want to -- they don`t want to be
stuck in the corner of admitting that they screwed this whole thing up by
refusing to raise taxes.

ALLEN: Well, clearly, there are no mirrors left in the Capitol
because everyone`s pointing at someone else to blame, and really, they
ought to be looking in those mirrors on both sides.

Look, you`re absolutely right. The Republicans refused to raise
taxes. They talked about new revenues. Revenues, of course, don`t
necessarily mean new taxes. And if you do new taxes, they were going to
have a net of nothing. That is to say, lower tax rates to make up for it.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

ALLEN: They`re not willing to do it. It is the party brand. It`s
the image. Grover Norquist talks about this a lot. It makes Republicans
identifiable at the polls. They`re the people who will never raise your
taxes. On the other hand, you know, Democrats think that they`re going to
be able in 2012 to make the argument that some folks at the top ought to
have their taxes raised to make it easier to pay for services for other
folks.

Look, at the end of the day, taxes are going to come up, benefits are
going to come down or the deficit`s going to grow. That`s just the way
that it works.

MATTHEWS: Well, as Ezra Klein said in "The Washington Post" -- here`s
something really interesting to watch, if you watch the politics of this.
Basically, the further right Democrats tiptoed to try to catch the
Republicans, the further right they went. The strongest proposal by a
Republican on the super-committee was a plan by senator Pat Toomey that
fell far short of the proposal made by the Speaker of the House, John
Boehner, earlier this year in his debt ceiling negotiations with President
Obama.

Look at this. Boehner proposed $800 million in taxes -- in new tax
revenue and dropping the tax rate of the wealthy down to 35 percent. Now,
that was the thing from this summer. Look what Toomey did. He basically
said, I`ll save only $300 million in new tax. I only gain $300 million in
new tax, mainly from the rich, and I`m going to drop the top rate down to
28.

So here`s a guy -- and here, Ezra writes, quote, "Frankly, it`s hard
to find even one area in which super-committee Republicans offered a
substantially new compromise or even matched what Boehner offered Obama a
while back. If the question is whether the Democrats or the Republicans
moved further in the direction of a compromise, there`s no doubt that
compared to the last set of negotiations, the Democrats moved right and the
Republicans moved further right."

It looks like there was a little bit of give on the Democrats` side,
even though they had to risk getting blamed by their own constituents, AARP
and other -- and older people. They`re willing to play with entitlements,
if they could get some revenues. But the Republicans wouldn`t give them
revenues.

MILBANK: Right. I think that`s right. I don`t think either side
moved terribly much. We never really got to that grand bargain state.
Now, interestingly, from what I understand, there was sort of the
framework for this. Some of the Senate Democrats, like Max Baucus was
working with some of the House Republicans...

MATTHEWS: Yes, I know he was.

MILBANK: ... like Dave Camp. They really could have probably struck
a deal, but they were four or five of the members of the committee doing
that, but the rest had no interest in it. So there really was never a
serious proposal to come forth in the first place.

MATTHEWS: Let`s talk about the president`s veto threat. I was taken
with it last night. It seemed to have a lot of stiffness in it. He was
going to actually say -- he did say last night -- Jonathan, is that being
believed, that he will veto any attempt by the Congress to wiggle out of
these automatic cuts, which include big cuts to defense?

ALLEN: I don`t think he`s going to have to worry about it because I
think that it`s going to be a very hard sell for House Republicans,
conservative House Republicans, who want to keep the budget cuts in place.
It`s going to be a very hard sell to get them to reverse that. They may
shift around what gets cut, but that overall level of $1.2 trillion, I`d be
shocked if you saw something move out of the House that actually lifted
that cap and allowed for more spending.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

ALLEN: So I think it`s something where the president wants to take...

MATTHEWS: He`s going to win.

ALLEN: ... a tough tone and -- it`s good politics for him. He`s
going to win that argument.

MATTHEWS: Yes. OK, you`re great. He`s going to...

MILBANK: Yes, imagine, you know...

MATTHEWS: He`s going to stick to his guns and go strong into the
general.

MILBANK: Right, defending millionaires and the defense contractors
but not the payroll tax...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: I think he`s found firm ground to fight from. Anyway, I
think he actually can win this fight right now. If you guys want to cut
spending, if you want a deal with cut spending and you don`t want to cut
defense, cut something else. Or, by the way, pay for the military,
something you don`t want to do. Anyway, thank you, Dana Milbank and
Jonathan Allen, sir. Thank you.

Coming up: Last week, Mitt Romney tried to make us think President
Obama called Americans lazy. Remember that? He never did, of course. The
president never used that word on the people. And now Romney`s new attack
on the president is also based on distorting his words. That`s ahead.
Dishonest advertising coming up from Mitt Romney.

You`re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Well, the Gingrich surge is on in South Carolina. Let`s
check the HARDBALL "Scoreboard" right now. Republicans in the first-in-
the-South primary state pick fellow Southerner Gingrich over his rivals by
nearly 2 to 1. Gingrich gets 31 percent -- wow -- in a new poll from Kelly
Ann (ph) Conway`s polling company, which is a Republican outfit. Herman
Cain is next at 17 and Romney third down at 16. But look at that lead!

South Carolina has been the primary to pick Republican winners for
president. Right now, Gingrich is the leader.

We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R-MA), FMR. GOV., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I want people
to remember that when he was candidate Obama, that he said he was going to
get this economy going, he was going to bring people together, be a real
leader for change in America. And so I`m going to run an ad that shows him
and the things he said here in New Hampshire in a speech here. And the
contrast between what he said and what he did is so stark, people will
recognize we really do need to have someone new lead this country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. That was Mitt Romney last night
previewing his new TV ad that will run in New Hampshire today. It`s
getting all kinds of attention for being misleading, that ad is, in what it
portrays. Let`s watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Thank you, New Hampshire!

I am confident that we can steer ourselves out of this crisis.

(INAUDIBLE) charge of the economy.

We need a rescue plan for the middle class.

We need to provide relief for home owners. It`s going to take a new
direction.

If we keep talking about the economy, we`re going to lose.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Wow, it sounds like a devastating ad, doesn`t it? But
here`s the context. Let`s play the full sentence of what then Senator
Obama said in that speech.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Senator McCain`s campaign actually said, and I quote, "If we
keep talking about the economy, we`re going to lose."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: So he`s quoting McCain in person there in 2008. And in
this new ad by Romney, Romney`s ad maker is suggesting those are his words
about his own campaign strategy, a completely dishonest distortion. Is
this what we can expect for the next year on the campaign trail?

Michael Steele is the former chairman of the Republican National
Committee and MSNBC political analyst, and Bob Shrum`s a veteran Democratic
strategist. Welcome.

Michael, was that on the level, that use of the quote from candidate
Obama to the effect that, If we talk about the economy, we lose? Was that
a fair take from him?

MICHAEL STEELE, FMR. RNC CHAIRMAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I
don`t know if I`d use the word "fair," but you said the word I think that`s
most appropriate. You said devastating, and that was the point.

Look, this is politics. And you know, Chris, you`ve been in it a long
time, as I know Bob does, as well, this is hardball. This is beginning to
step it up. We`re six weeks away from the first votes being cast, and
Romney is beginning to lay down some tracks. And he wants to lay those
tracks on the back of the president. So yes, I mean, in terms of the
politics of it, it`s absolutely a fair play ad.

MATTHEWS: But did candidate Obama ever say in regard to his own
strategy, If we keep talking about the economy, we`re going to lose? Did
he ever say that about his strategy?

STEELE: Well, clearly not, if you`ve got the complete quote there,
but that`s not the point. The point is -- the point is that what he said
then, quoting Senator McCain, is applicable today because he`s absolutely
right. The president doesn`t want to spend a whole lot of time talking
about the economy...

MATTHEWS: OK.

STEELE: ... because it reminds people of the fact that there`s 14
percent -- I mean, 14 percent -- 9 percent unemployment and $14 trillion
worth of debt out there.

MATTHEWS: OK, let me go to Bob Shrum. Bob, this is a take from
something he was quoting McCain in. And the way they portray it in the
Romney campaign, he`s talking about himself and his strategy.

BOB SHRUM, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Yes, listen, Michael`s double talk
seems to equate hardball with lying. This is a lie. Michael, during the
campaign last year, was out there saying that the Democrats believe America
is in decline. If you had clipped that and put him on the air saying
"America is in decline," he would have screamed foul.

You could do this to anybody. You could take Lincoln`s first
inaugural address and clip it, and you could have a sentence that would say
"Slavery is right and must be extended."

Now, I think this is as phony as Romney is, and people are going to
see through it. And I also think he`s going to pay a price for it because,
you know...

MATTHEWS: OK...

SHRUM: ... you don`t have to clip his stuff. He`s pro-choice, anti-
choice pro-gay rights, anti-gay rights. And you can use real quotes. You
don`t have to do an Orwellian trick with them.

MATTHEWS: Yes, but here`s the...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Go ahead, Michael.

STEELE: You played this game, Bob, a long time, and don`t...

SHRUM: I never played that game. I never once did anything like
that!

STEELE: Don`t sit there with this holier than thou...

SHRUM: Never once did.

(CROSSTALK)

SHRUM: Never once in any campaign.

STEELE: I`m not saying you, Bob...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Michael! Michael!

SHRUM: Name another example, Michael.

(CROSSTALK)

STEELE: Bob, I`m not saying you. I`m saying, do not act as if the
Democrats have never done this themselves.

SHRUM: Name an example, Michael. Name an example. Give an example.

(CROSSTALK)

STEELE: I can go back to -- I can go back to an RNC chairman who gave
a speech in New England last year about Afghanistan and watched the
Democrats clip that speech and put it on the Internet.

SHRUM: What was it? What happened? What happened? What happened?
Tell me.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: OK.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Not surprisingly, the liberals have already begun to use
Romney`s tactics against him.

SHRUM: Yes.

MATTHEWS: Here`s a spoof ad by ThinkProgress. Let`s watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, THINKPROGRESS AD)

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We would just raise
everybody`s taxes.

There`s nothing unique about the United States.

Government knows better than a free people how to guide an economy.

Fiscal responsibility is heartless and immoral.

Let us just raise your taxes some more. We just need a little bit
more.

America`s just another nation with a flag.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: I like it.

Michael, that`s fair game by your definition.

STEELE: Yes, exactly. So what -- why is everybody getting all upset?

MATTHEWS: But that`s a spoof, Michael. That`s not an advertisement.
That`s a satire on the corruption of these campaign ads.

(CROSSTALK)

STEELE: Call it what you want. It serves the same purpose, Chris.

And this is going to be a hard-fought campaign. There`s going to be a
lot of third-party organizations out there that are going to be running
ads. And you can call them spoofs, you can call them political, you can
call them what you want. They`re going to have their intended effect on
both sides of the aisle.

(CROSSTALK)

STEELE: So don`t sit here and act like this is something new to
politics, folks.

MATTHEWS: Oh, let me ask you, Bob, so that you have the high ground
here. We have just shown an example of satire, making fun of the
dishonesty of the Romney campaign.

SHRUM: Of course.

MATTHEWS: And even in this case, Michael Steele says that`s fair
game. The satirical version of the dishonesty he says is OK. So we have
really lowered the bar here, Mr. Shrum. I don`t know whether we can`t all
jump over this bar.

Go ahead.

(CROSSTALK)

(LAUGHTER)

SHRUM: Look, Michael can`t name a single example of a major
presidential candidate, major candidate for office ever doing something
like this. There`s going to be a lot of attention paid to it because
Romney has put it out there.

I actually think he`s going to hurt himself. Voters are not dumb.
They`re going to see through this.

MATTHEWS: OK.

SHRUM: And, as I pointed out earlier, the irony is you can do this to
Romney without clipping him.

MATTHEWS: OK. Let`s take a look at Rush Limbaugh`s show. He talked
about Michelle Obama`s appearance at a NASCAR race the other day, this last
weekend, where she was booed by some of the fans and somehow it all went
back to the vacation she took in Spain several months ago, according to
Rush. Here`s Rush using an interesting bit of American language here to
describe Michelle Obama.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE RUSH LIMBAUGH SHOW")

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: The NASCAR crowd doesn`t quite
understand why when the husband and the wife are going the same place, the
first lady has to take her own Boeing 757 with family and kids and hangers-
on four hours earlier than her husband who will be on his 747.

NASCAR people understand that`s a little bit of a waste. They
understand it`s a little bit of uppity-ism. First ladies have not been
known to hop their own 757s four hours ahead of their husband when they`re
both going the same place.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Now, here`s Rush Limbaugh going back several months to a
trip the first lady took and using it as an excuse, I would argue, to use
the word uppity in describing her performance as first lady.

Uppity -- well, Michael, you have lived this life more than I have,
obviously, and all I can tell you is, I have never heard the word used,
exempt in context, in connection to the N-word. Nobody ever says uppity
about anybody else, about any other ethnic group.

(CROSSTALK)

STEELE: It is never used in a positive way. And it is defined as
someone who is acting or trying to be above their station in life.

It is being used by certain whites towards African-Americans as a
reminder that they need to be kept in their place. Now, if that is the
application of the term with respect to the first lady of the United
States, then please tell me what is her proper place, other than being at
an event where she`s acknowledging and welcoming home our war wounded who
have served this country?

So I think this kind of rhetoric is misplaced. It is inappropriate
and is, quite frankly, stupid. So let`s get past this craziness, and stop
using pejorative terms that you know have no place in the marketplace of
ideas of just basic human conversation, unless you`re intending some other
inference.

MATTHEWS: Why does a man like Rush Limbaugh, who uses this kind of
language and appeals this kind of sentiment -- and I think he does --
command such authority in your party, where members of Congress will end up
kissing up to him after he has spanked them?

Why does he continue to have this commanding authority in your party
if he talks like this?

STEELE: I don`t know, to be quite honest with you. And I think a lot
of folks are long past that point.

I think, you know, we all move forward. We all have, you know, goals
that we set towards, I guess, embracing and sort of making us more relevant
than some of us may want us to be. I just think that the NASCAR crowd that
booed the first lady and the vice president`s wife did so for, you know,
political reasons.

They don`t like the president`s agenda, but it has nothing to do with
the first lady being uppity. That is just baloney.

MATTHEWS: I thank you for coming on, on this issue.

SHRUM: Good for you, Michael. Good for you.

MATTHEWS: There`s no debate here. There`s no debate on this point.

STEELE: Yes.

MATTHEWS: Thank you for being so well -- well, you made it clear what
you feel and think. And I trust you so much on this, Michael Steele, who
has battled his way, pioneering that attitude within the Republican Party.

Bob Shrum, no need to add to that brilliant talking there, in fact,
heartfelt.

Anyway, up next -- by the way, happy Thanksgiving, gentlemen.

SHRUM: You, too, Chris.

(CROSSTALK)

STEELE: Happy Thanksgiving.

MATTHEWS: Up next: Michele Bachmann has got something to say about
her Republican rivals, but she saves the best zinger for Rick Perry.
That`s next in the "Sideshow."

You`re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL. Now for the "Sideshow."

First up: wordplay. Last night, Michele Bachmann was the latest in
the lineup of Republican 2012 contenders to hit up the late-night comedy
scene. She sat down with Jimmy Fallon and agreed to play "say the first
word that comes to -- first thing that comes to your mind when you hear
this word game."

The topic at hand, no surprise, her opponents. Let`s see how it all
panned out.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "LATE NIGHT WITH JIMMY FALLON")

JIMMY FALLON, HOST, "LATE NIGHT WITH JIMMY FALLON": Romney.

(LAUGHTER)

REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Hair.

(LAUGHTER)

BACHMANN: No, just a minute. Vice president.

FALLON: Gingrich.

BACHMANN: Newt.

FALLON: Cain.

BACHMANN: Nine.

FALLON: Perry.

BACHMANN: I have got to do three.

FALLON: Yes. Do...

BACHMANN: Governor, Texas. Can`t remember the...

(CROSSTALK)

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

FALLON: Bachmann.

BACHMANN: President.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Was that a hint that she would pick Mitt Romney as her
running mate? Well, at this point, it`s not too likely we will ever find
out.

And more from the Bachmann front. How`s this for a one-sided show of
affection? In her new book "Core of Conviction," Bachmann sheds praise on
Garrison Keillor, host of "Prairie Home Companion" and native Minnesotan --
quote -- "His politics are very different from mine, but I love his gentle,
knowing humor. Keillor understands Minnesota, from Lutherans to lutefisk.
And his ability to squeeze laughs out of serious-minded Midwesterners makes
him a legend."

Well, think Keillor feels the same Minnesota bond? Not even close.
During last year`s midterm election season, Keillor called Bachmann
"embarrassing to me and a great many Minnesotans." And what does he have
to say in response to the nod in Bachmann`s book? "Well, as an old
Democrat, I wish that Michele`s presidential campaign were doing better
than it is."

Well, there are many more and a few other -- many other Democrats who
would like to second that one.

And, finally, clarity or more confusion? In the past couple of
months, it seemed that just when GOP Herman Cain seemed to be clearing up
what he calls his pro-life stance on abortion, we were all thrown for a
loop.

Remember this?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HERMAN CAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I believe that life begins
at conception and abortion under no circumstances.

PIERS MORGAN, HOST, "PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT": No circumstances?

CAIN: No circumstances.

MORGAN: Because many of your fellow candidates -- some of them
qualify that.

CAIN: Yes. Yes.

MORGAN: If one of your female children, grandchildren was raped, you
would honestly want her to bring up that baby as her own?

CAIN: You`re mixing two things here, Piers.

It comes down to, it`s not the government`s role or anybody else`s
role to make that decision. So, what I`m saying is, it ultimately gets
down to a choice that that family or that mother has to make, not me as
president.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: So he`s not pro-life. He`s pro-choice. It`s mind-boggling
to watch.

Well, now it looks like the proof is in the pledge. Cain joined his
fellow 2012 Republican candidates in signing a new pledge, saying -- quote
-- "I am an associate Baptist minister, and am 100 percent pro-life. Where
my powers in the executive branch are concerned, I will work at all times
to oppose government funding of abortion. I will veto any legislation that
contains funds for abortion."

Well, first of all, that happens to already be the law of the land.
And, secondly, I have no idea what this guy believes.

Up next, why are so many liberals dissatisfied with President Obama?
Jonathan Chait writes in "New York" magazine that the problem isn`t the
president; it`s the liberals who are never satisfied with any Democratic
president.

This is fascinating -- a fascinating argument here. Jonathan Chait
joins us next.

You`re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BRIAN SULLIVAN, CNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Brian Sullivan with your CNBC
"Market Wrap."

Modest losses as the third-quarter GDP is revised down and the IMF
unveils a new enhanced lending program in Europe. The Dow Jones industrial
average dropped 53 points, S&P off four, and the Nasdaq giving up just one
point.

The Commerce Department says the economy grew a little slower than we
had originally believed in the third quarter. They revised their GDP
annualized growth estimate down to 2 percent from 2.5 percent. Meantime,
the IMF beefing up its lending with a new six-month liquidity line reserved
for countries with relatively good economic standing? Who is that?

In stocks, AT&T finished higher after an unsuccessful, but apparently
well-organized attempt to hack into its customer accounts. Merck announced
that it will pay $950 million to settle claims related to the marketing of
its painkiller Vioxx.

And news breaking moments ago at the closing bell, the Federal Reserve
announcing a new round of stress tests for 19 firms, including America`s
six biggest banks.

That is it from CNBC, first in business worldwide -- and now back to
HARDBALL.

MATTHEWS: Well, this will be fun.

Welcome back to HARDBALL.

In the latest issue of "New York" magazine, Jonathan Chait asks the
question, when did liberals become so unreasonable?

And in it he writes -- quote -- "Liberals are dissatisfied with Obama
because liberals on the whole are incapable of feeling satisfied with a
Democratic president. They can be happy with the idea of a Democratic
president, indeed, dancing-in-the-streets delirious, but not with the real
thing. The various theories of disconsolate liberals all suffer from a
failure to compare Obama with any plausible baseline. Instead, they
compare Obama with an imaginary president, either an imaginary Obama or a
fantasy version of a past president."

Whoa.

Jonathan Chait writes for "New York" magazine, and Joan Walsh is
editor at large for Salon.

Joan, this man has tapped into our very being here, the very raison
d`etre of what we do for a living.

First of all, Joan, I want to ask you, what do you think when you read
this article, just to get -- I know -- I like you so much and I want to
know. When you read that it was your psychological condition that is the
problem, not the president`s track record, what did you think?

(LAUGHTER)

JOAN WALSH, EDITOR IN CHIEF, SALON.COM: I was very irritated and
dissatisfied, Chris.

(LAUGHTER)

WALSH: I got really angry.

No.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: You were disappointed.

WALSH: It`s because that`s my nature. Apparently, that`s my nature,
Jonathan says. No, seriously...

MATTHEWS: You`re one of those professional progressives, right?

WALSH: Professional left, always whining. Joe Biden wants me to stop
whining, too.

OK. Look, first of all, liberal Democrats -- let`s be clear. Liberal
Democrats are very happy with this president, and they were happy with
President Clinton, too. If you look at the Gallup weekly tracking poll,
and you can all the way back to very far back, I mean, Obama stays in the
70s, goes up into the 80s with liberal Democrats.

MATTHEWS: OK, let me go with that.

WALSH: Clinton did, too.

MATTHEWS: Joan, you have -- you have perked me up here.

WALSH: Good.

MATTHEWS: I`m going to challenge you and then you can tell me what
you`re thinking here.

WALSH: OK.

MATTHEWS: Here we have the latest NBC/"Wall Street Journal" poll
making that same point. Would the Democrats -- should the Democrats
nominate Obama again? Twenty-three percent, that`s a pretty good
endorsement by the disgruntled liberals. Only 20 percent, nominate someone
else, which is Hillary or someone else.

How can you say there that crowds like the one who watch this show and
myself oftentimes are disgruntled and permanently so?

JONATHAN CHAIT, "NEW YORK": You know, there`s a difference between
wanting to dump a guy out of office and being happy with him. And liberals
are in sort of between there. They`re not ready to dump Obama. Some of
them are, but most of them aren`t ready to dump him.

But there is a broad dissatisfaction, right? The people who are
approving of him are saying, well, it could be worse. Things are hard for
him. Circumstances were tough. Maybe it will be better in the second
term.

No one is saying, he`s actually done a pretty good job. You have got
people -- sort of ranges from like angry, betrayed, let down, disappointed,
dissatisfied. Generally, he`s better than the Republican in their mind,
but, still, it`s a letdown, it`s not that good.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Do you think part of it is -- is age? I mean, I`m older
than Joan. I`m older than you, I`m sure.

And yet I -- I think a lot of very young people in their 20s do have
idealism up the kazoo. And I understand it. They want perfection. Is
that it? Or is it people my age as well, who are just difficult to please,
by your writing?

CHAIT: I think it`s all ages. You see it in the baby boomers, in the
young people. What I try to show in the piece is this historically has
always been the case. When there`s a Democrat in office, liberals spend
most of their time complaining.

MATTHEWS: OK. Let me give you an example, let me challenge you
because I really respect your writing. I`m going to read this piece a
number of times again because I think it`s worth it, Jon. It`s for you
perhaps Joan.

Let me go hear this, when Bill Clinton came in and squeaked
basically, came in with all the baggage and the girls, everybody said he
might be a pretty good president but nobody thought he`s going to be
transformative. He`s not going to change the world. Well, there`s a lot
of excitement about him, but it wasn`t like Obama.

Let me show you a person who was really excited way back in 2004, you
know, by Obama at the very prospect they would be the first African-
American president. In fact, said so at the time after first hearing that
speech up in Boston, at the convention. Here I am, big promotion here,
2008 talking about Barack Obama and then again in 2004, back when he
delivered that amazing keynote address at the Democratic Convention.

Let`s watch later and then earlier.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

MATTHEWS: The feeling most people get when they hear Barack Obama`s
speech, I felt this thrill going up my leg. I mean, I don`t have that too
often.

I have to tell you, a little chill in my legs right now. That is an
amazing moment in history right there. It is really an amazing moment. A
keynoter like I`ve never heard. Dick Gephardt, thanks for joining us here,
a political veteran. Here`s a new kid on the block.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A star is broken.

MATTHEWS: A star is born. Amazing reception. I thought the speech
remarks were -- you and I were talking about them, as they proceeded.
Amazing stuff.

(END VIDEO CLIPS)

MATTHES: OK. Chill and thrill, not tingle, which is the favorite
word of the right wing. They came up with that word, and they make fun of
it. It`s great, they love to giggle with themselves. They make up words,
make fun of the words and then they apply them to somebody else.

Thrill and chill I was, I have never heard such an amazing statement
about our American inclusivity, our American exceptionalism, if you will, a
phrase I like, because it means somebody can make it in this country based
on merit. That`s my American exceptionalism. And I will proudly salute it
and be thrilled by it when it`s spoken well.

Was he just too good? Is it possible that he was so stirring in
those rooms we saw up in New Hampshire and Iowa, 200 people, that you had
to expect much more?

CHAIT: It`s a couple of things. Number one, people forget how
excited they were about presidents in the past. That`s part of the cycle
of disillusionment. You romanticize the past. And you also forget how
excited you were before your disillusionment about that past.

MATTHEWS: Right.

CHAIT: People were very excited about Clinton. People were excited
about Jimmy Carter. Jimmy Carter reduced the room to tears when he gave
his acceptance speech in 1976. You know, Kennedy, you can go back in time.

Democrats get excited by the idea of a different president.

MATTHEWS: Are we more romantic?

CHAIT: I think Democrats and liberals are romantic about the style
of politics.

MATTHEWS: OK. Let me go to J on this. Do you want to accept
anything in this self-criticism of the center left and the left?

JOAN WALSH, SALON.COM: Well, sure. And I`m kind of proud of it
because actually reading Jonathan`s piece, he says that there`s really
nothing very unusual about the situation for President Obama. This is what
we do, and we`ve done it going back to FDR, even though we think of him as
a great hero, the left was somehow disappointed.

And you know what, we were right to be disappointed. It was
unfortunate Social Security didn`t mostly cover black people because he
compromised with the Dixiecrats. It was unfortunate that he eased up on
stimulus in 1937 and we went back into the depression. If we look at JFK
who you and I both love as Irish Catholics, he did try for a long time to
balance the party and see if he could hold on to those Southern Democrats.
He didn`t move as fast as Dr. King wanted.

Now, would we say, oh, Dr. King should have said, you know what, he`s
doing the best he can. Let`s just call off that old march on Washington.

No, we would never say that and the same with Clinton and Carter.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

WALSH: We push for values and we push for inclusion. And we push
for social justice -- and that`s our job. I`m not a politician.

MATTHEWS: Thank you.

WALSH: I don`t work for the president.

MATTHEWS: See, we believe government can do good things, the public
working together. And liberalism by its nature believes that market
shouldn`t rule. The market can be perfected upon by public action. That`s
what a liberal is to me, you can make choices. You don`t just listen to
the market.

CHAIT: So, number one, I think that`s good. I mean, that`s an
important role. And number two, some of the criticisms are just flat
right, like I say in the piece.

The problem comes when liberals go from that, I`m disappointed with
this, I`m disappointed with that, I want more here, to a general feeling of
disappointed -- oh, I`m let down, oh, this isn`t what I expected, because
they`re always let down.

MATTHEWS: I know what you`re talking about.

By the way, Joan, abstain for a second here. I know what he`s
talking about, which is basically in NDC. It`s the old -- we love to argue
among ourselves. We love this. It`s called NDC, "November doesn`t count".
It`s not about the general public. It`s about us winning among ourselves.

These arguments are why the Democratic Party tends to be the most
exciting party because all these great arguments over civil rights occur
within the party. The fight over the Vietnam War was within the party.

And, by the way, I get thrilled by the idea of arguing. My enemies
want to hear this -- I`m thrilled by this argument. OK?

Thank you. Jonathan Chait, thank you. Great writing. I love "New
York" magazine. By the way, you guys way underpaid, way underpaid for what
you can do.

Up next --

CHAIT: Thank you very much.

MATTHEWS: -- it`s been 48 years, since -- you too, Joan -- 48 years
since President Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas. And now, a new
documentary uses never-before-seen video to show how Oswald acted alone.

This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: More poll numbers. Let`s once again check the HARDBALL
scoreboard. In New Hampshire, no surprise Mitt Romney is well ahead of his
Republican rivals. A new Suffolk poll has him nearly three times with
three times the support of second place candidate Newt Gingrich and Ron
Paul. But when you broaden it out nationally, it`s Newt Gingrich in the
lead.

The new Quinnipiac poll has Gingrich at 26, Romney still stuck at 22,
and Herman Cain sinking hard at 14.

We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NARRATOR: As the motorcade turns onto Houston Street, Hughes` camera
inadvertently trains on the Texas School Book Depository Building. After
undergoing the ground-breaking process of scanning and restoration does
Hughes high-resolution film show the sniper taking aim from the sixth floor
window.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, we`re back.

That was a clip from the new National Geographic documentary, "JFK:
The Lost Bullet." The documentary attempts to prove once and for all that
President Kennedy was killed by a lone gunman, Lee Harvey Oswald, through
never before seen coverage and footage, rather, of that fateful day in
Dallas 48 years ago today.

Max Holland is the historian who worked on the documentary. It`s his
work. He joins us now to talk about some of the new evidence he and his
team were able to discover.

So, I have -- I`m going to talk about this later when you`re off
about the reason why we can`t live with the fact that a nobody killed a
somebody. What -- what do you think you`ve been able to prove here, to
establish here with this new footage, in this new evidence?

MAX HOLLAND, AUTHOR & JOURNALIST: We`re trying to break the
stranglehold of this film on people`s imagination of what happened and what
we think we presented is the first account of all three shots and what
happened to each one.

MATTHEWS: And there was a longer period of time that he was able to
shoot, 11 seconds.

HOLLAND: There`s a proverbial six seconds in Dallas, and we say it`s
more like 11 seconds.

MATTHEWS: To get off three shots.

HOLLAND: Right, which is all the time in the world.

MATTHEWS: CBS, a number of years ago demonstrated with a guy
actually with that kind of bold action rifle, they showed how you could get
them off even in less then 11 seconds.

HOLLAND: That`s right. But we went even better than that because we
account for why the first shot missed.

MATTHEWS: It hit the traffic.

HOLLAND: It hit -- yes, the --

MATTHEWS: Let me ask you, was Lee Harvey Oswald a good shot?

HOLLAND: He was a good enough marine to be as a marine, yes.

MATTHEWS: And he had a telescopic lens.

HOLLAND: Yes.

MATTHEWS: And he was right there, not obstruction really. He was
just there. It wasn`t a hard shot.

HOLLAND: He wasn`t at all.

MATTHEWS: The car is going how fast?

HOLLAND: About 10 to 11 miles per hour.

MATTHEWS: And it was an open car?

HOLLAND: Yes.

MATTHEWS: And you knew who he was shooting at.

HOLLAND: We sure did.

MATTHEWS: Anyway, here`s more from sort of the home video would you
believe just misses Oswald firing the first shot at Kennedy`s motorcade.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NARRATOR: Hughes stops filming just as the president`s limousine
makes the turn on to Elm Street.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president`s car is now going by and it`s now
traveling at a high rate of speed. Secret Service standing up. They were
armed with submachine guns. (INAUDIBLE) has been hit by the gunfire.

NARRATOR: If Hughes had kept his camera on for just a few more
seconds, we might have seen a rifle emerge to fire bullet "A."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: In all the study you did with the evidence and archival
material and the firsthand accounts, did you ever come across any reason,
hard reason to believe, that someone else was involved besides Oswald?

HOLLAND: No, not in the shooting, not at all. But if this makes any
sense, he did it before, but with our explanation he did it even more. It
was an easy thing for him to do.

MATTHEWS: What was his motive -- killing our president?

HOLLAND: I think he was a politicized sociopath, kind of like
Timothy McVeigh.

MATTHEWS: Well, he had become disillusioned with the Soviet Union,
he had come back from over there after trying communism over there and
Russia and had become infatuated with Castro.

HOLLAND: Exactly.

MATTHEWS: In the day before or so, he had visited Soviet and Cuban
embassies in Mexico -- in Mexico City. What do you think of that? Looks
to me like a trail of some kind of infatuated communist.

HOLLAND: Right. And I think he actually thought he`d be welcomed in
Cuba if he managed to get there.

MATTHEWS: No evidence of Castro involved in this?

HOLLAND: No, but we really won`t know what the Cubans knew about
them until they open their archives.

MATTHEWS: It`s possible they knew it was coming?

HOLLAND: I`m not sure I`d go that far, but I think they might have
known something about Oswald, more than they have let on.

MATTHEWS: Yes. I`ve always held it against Castro, but then again
we tried to get him.

HOLLAND: Right.

MATTHEWS: So, I can`t -- well, I do hold it against him anyway.

HOLLAND: I think Oswald understood that.

MATTHEWS: That we tried to get him.

HOLLAND: That we were trying.

MATTHEWS: You know, I was doing some work on this, and I came across
the fact that at one point, Maureen Oswald tried to restrain her husband
from going out, thinking he was going after to get Nixon. He also shot
going after Edwin Walker, a right wing general. He had a pattern of being
a hard lefty communist -- infatuated communist person.

Why -- is it possible that one of the reasons why the American
liberals don`t accept this, a lot of them over the years, like Oliver
Stone, they just can`t stand the idea that a hard lefty killed a guy they
loved?

HOLLAND: That`s exactly right. I mean, a lot of people said, who
would want to kill Walker and John F. Kennedy, it doesn`t make any sense.
But from Oswald`s point of view, they were a lot closer.

MATTHEWS: Oh, yes. And Nixon, I mean, anybody that was anti-Castro
was his enemy.

HOLLAND: Absolutely.

MATTHEWS: I think we`ve figured this out.

Thank you, Max. You`ve done the work and I`ve been working on this
for a while. Thank you so much, Max Holland. "JFK: The Lost Bullet" airs
again this coming Sunday morning, November 27th, by the way, on the
National Geographic channel. Check for local listings and time.

Coming up, "Let Me Finish" with some thoughts about what happened on
that day in Dallas 48 years ago.

You`re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: "Let Me Finish" tonight with this:

I`m glad we could discuss tonight this new photographic evidence from
the Kennedy assassination. I think I understand why people are so open to
the possibility that Lee Harvey Oswald was not the president`s lone killer.
It`s hard to imagine such a small person being responsible for the loss of
such a beloved and important person.

We`ve been taught through years of Shakespeare and lesser dramas to
expect a serious villain as the match for our heroes. Othello had Iago.
Sherlock Holmes had Dr. Moreau. The Lone Ranger had the Cavendish gang.
And Superman, of course, had Lex Luthor. I could go on.

The good guy has to have a bad guy with brains and some grand vision,
a grand scheme to take over the world or whatever. He has to be a
mastermind, a fiend worthy of our contempt.

Lee Harvey Oswald, back from and disillusioned with his belief in
Soviet Russia, infatuated with Castro, just doesn`t live up to our grand
notions of evil. So, people look for some grand explanation -- grand being
the key word. We want it know that we were right, that Kennedy was a great
and only a great force of evil could take him from us.

Well, a half century later the evidence turns to something small,
something dull and banal, a little loser got himself a gun and saw his
opportunity to become someone important, someone who killed a person so
many people loved.

I`ve always thought long before this new evidence came to us that the
most impenetrable obstacle to all the conspiracy theories is that Oswald
had that job at the Texas Book Depository long before the president`s
travel route was set. He was in that spot before there was any reason to
believe the president would be passing right there below him. It was, I
believe, a crime of opportunity, a small man with a political hatred got
himself a rifle and took the training he`d gotten in the military to shoot
down the most beloved president of my lifetime.

We remember, most of us, from that time where we were when we heard,
and many of us at least in heart, mind and soul are still there. We have
never gotten over, it and that more than anything is why we have such a
hard time accepting that an event so simple, banal, horrible actually
happened.

That`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.

"POLITICS NATION" with Al Sharpton starts right now.

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
BE UPDATED.
END

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